Stalingrad, by Peter Blackman


Hushed was the world

And oh, dark agony that suspense shook upon us

While hate came flooding o’er your wide savannas

Plunging pestilence against you –

All that stood to state: “Where men meet

There meets one human race!”


Therefore did men from Moscow to the Arctic

Rounding Vladivostok to the South where Kazbek lifts its peak

Still work and working waited news of Stalingrad

And from Cape to white Sahara

Men asked news of Stalingrad

Town and village waited what had come of Stalingrad

The tom-tom beat across thick forest

While every evening at Palava

Old men told of Stalingrad

The gauchos caught the pampas whisper

The windswept hope of Stalingrad

And in the far Canadian north

Trappers left their baiting for the latest out of Stalingrad

In the factories and coal fields

Each shift waited what last had come from Stalingrad

While statesmen searched the dispatch boxes

What they brought of Stalingrad

And women stopped at house work

Held their children close to hear

What was afoot at Stalingrad

For well men knew that there

A thousand years was thrown the fate of the peoples

Stalingrad, oh star of glory

Star of hope, oh star of flame


Oh what a midwife for this glory

Take for the pattern Pavlov and his men

A soviet soldier and his nine companions

Who full seven weeks sleepless by night and day

Fought nor gave ground

They knew that with them lay

That where men meet should meet one human race


Carpenters who had built houses

Wanted only to build more

Painters who still painted pictures

Wanted only to paint more

Men who sang life strong in laughter

Wanted only to sing more

Men who planted wheat and cotton

Wanted only to plant more

Men who set the years in freedom

Sure they would be slaves no more

They spoke peace to their neighbours in tilling

For in peace they would eat their bread

Uzbeks, Tatars, Letts, Ukrainians

Russians, Muscovites, Armenians

Who ringed forests wide around arctic

Brought sands to blossom, tundras dressed for spring

These kept faith in Stalin’s town

We may not weep for those who silent now rest here

Garland these graves

These lives have garlanded all our remaining days with hope

Stalingrad, oh star of glory

Star of hope, here spread your flame


Now when news broke that Stalingrad

Still lives upon the banks of Volga

That Stalingrad was still a Soviet town

Then the turner flung his lathe light as a bird

And the gaucho spread his riot in the pampas

For this news of Stalingrad

The tom-tom beat wild madness

When the elders brought Palava these tidings out of Stalingrad

The English housewife stopped her housework

Held her child close and cried aloud

Now all men will be free!

And from Good Hope, black miners answered

This will help us to be free!

In the prison camps of Belsen

Sick men rounded from their guards

Now life was certain

Soon all men would be free

New light broke upon Africa

New strength for her peoples

New strength poured upon Asia

New hope for her peoples

America dreamed new dreams

From the strength of her peoples

New men arose in Europe

New force for her peoples

Once more they stand these men

At lathe and spindle

To recreate their hours and each new day

Bid houses rise once more in Soviet country

Men ring forests wide round arctic

Move rivers into deserts

And with high courage

Breed new generations

For still the land is theirs

Uzbeks, Tatars, Letts, Armenians

Caucasians, Muscovites, Crimeans

Still they speak peace to their neighbours at tilling

To all the wide world

And men come near to listen

Find by that day of Stalingrad

That this voice is theirs


Then Red Star spread your flame upon me

For in your flame is earnest of my freedom

Now may I rendezvous with the world

Now may I join man’s wide-flung diversity

For Stalingrad is still a Soviet town


Who was Peter Blackman?

 Peter Blackman was born in Barbados to working class parents in 1909 and received an elite colonial education at one of the island’s top schools thanks to a church scholarship. He later studied theology at Durham University. After becoming an Anglican priest he travelled to Gambia in 1935 as a missionary but returned to England converted to communism, so appalled was he at the racism of the church that saw Africans made to sit at the back of the congregation. He settled in London in 1937 throwing himself into campaign groups like the League of Coloured Peoples and helped out at the Communist Party’s offices. During the war, he helped assemble Wellington bombers and would later write movingly of the defeat of German fascism and the hope that this represented for the world. In 1949, he organised Robeson’s tour of Britain and accompanied him to Moscow and Warsaw. The two were firm friends and Robeson was a frequent visitor to Blackman’s home in Heath Hurst Road, Hampstead.

(information reproduced from Wikipedia, with thanks)